Experience, Advice, And My Blogging Writer’s Block

When I was young, my father told me a few things. One of them was to be careful about offering unsolicited advice, since often times I won’t know the whole story. And that’s been true to this day.

Recently, there was a dust-up over a post regarding leaving a job and “burning bridges”. One post spawned numerous others. And I did my part, commenting on a few with my experience regarding the situation. As it often times happens, people disagreed, and thus ensued a back and forth of right and wrong, proper blogging etiquette, and so on. Granted, none of that really matters to me, as I feel people are allowed to do whatever they want with their lives, both on-line and off. And deal with the rewards or consequences that come along with it. Such is life. But another underlying theme arose: what responsibility does one have when giving advice? That thought gave me a “lightbulb” moment, in regards to my writing. While I have a good amount of experience or advice, I’m not really comfortable just putting it out there at will. Why? Because you didn’t ask.

I’ve developed somewhat of a reputation as a “Personal Google” amongst some people I’ve become friends with via places like Twitter and Brazen Careerist. Unlike MySpace and Facebook, these people never knew me beforehand, and only know what they’ve read or seen in a profile page. But as they’d ask a question, I’d give an answer. Mostly tech-related, but also other topics. I’ve also had personal, private conversations with folks who were going through something I had experience with. But those were one-on-one conversations, where my experience or advice was tailored to their specific issue. When I didn’t have an answer, I didn’t respond, or tried to connect them with someone who did. But do I just broadcast out how I think the world should be? No. Think of these scenarios:

  • I have experience with Microsoft Windows, but you own a Mac.
  • I have experience with managing assets held in a trust, but you don’t have a trust.
  • I have experience with owning a home that had a sinkhole in Florida, but you rent an apartment in Chicago
  • I have experience dealing with alcoholism and drug abuse, but you’ve never had more than 2 drinks in your life

The list could go on and on. In my 28.5 years on this planet, I’ve experienced a lot of things and met a lot of people. And I’ve always been keen on helping others out when I have the right tools to do it. But beyond that, it simply isn’t my place. That is, unless you ask.

{ 2 comments }

Susan Pogorzelski April 9, 2009 at 6:35 am

Andrew: This is a great post! I like how you question one’s responsibility when giving advice, because it truly is a responsibility. I value advice and insight, and this might go into my own philosophy on blogging and commenting, but I tend to comment if and when I have something to say, adding my own experience for the writer or reader to gain another perspective. But only if I think they can relate.

This is what I value when I post a new blog post or comment on Twitter. Sometimes I don’t necessarily come out and say “please offer your advice,” but it’s always welcomed. It’s why I blog, really.

For me, personally, when I blog it’s because I’m trying to figure something out. I might have a narrow view of the situation, and my readers allow additional insight and new perspectives towards that. It may not be something I want to hear, of course, but I think that’s ultimately up to the person gaining the advice to decide. Consider the words, mull it around, see if it really does apply to you. And either make a change or disregard it, but always appreciate it. That’s kind of my philosophy. If there’s some measure by which I can relate to you, I want to try.

But that’s just my $.03 cents (I got a tax return, you know — more valuable!). Personally, I value your opinions, insight, and information, Andrew, and always learn something new from you.

Thanks for the post!

Ceci April 23, 2009 at 4:29 pm

I agree with Susan that whenever I post something, I’m really hoping for advice in comments.

In terms of putting it in a blog post… well… I always feel a bit contrived when writing a random advice post. I’d rather just write about something I’m thinking over, and my conclusions, and see what advice/different conclusions other people have.